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The year 2023 has been recorded as the hottest on Earth, bringing us closer to a critical limit.
Science & Health

The year 2023 has been recorded as the hottest on Earth, bringing us closer to a critical limit.

In 2023, according to EU climate monitors, the Earth experienced its hottest year on record. The surface temperature of the planet rose significantly, coming close to reaching the critical limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service reported that the Earth’s rising temperature, caused by climate change, has increased the frequency and severity of heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires around the world. This has resulted in a 1.48 C increase in the global thermometer compared to preindustrial levels.

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, stated that this is the initial year in which every day has been at least one degree warmer than the preindustrial era.

She stated that temperatures in 2023 are expected to surpass those of any time in the past 100,000 years.

Scientists report that almost half of the year has surpassed the 1.5C threshold, which increases the likelihood of climate consequences becoming self-perpetuating and disastrous.

However, if the average temperature on Earth surpasses 1.5C in 2024, as predicted by some scientists, it does not indicate that the world has failed to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming below that threshold.

FILE - Activists protest against fossil fuels at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit on Dec. 5, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

On December 5, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a group of activists demonstrated against the use of fossil fuels at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit.

This would only happen after multiple consecutive years surpassing the 1.5C threshold. Additionally, the agreement made in 2015 allows for the chance to decrease the Earth’s temperature after a period of exceeding it.

In the year 2023, Canada experienced large-scale fires, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East faced severe droughts, Europe, the United States, and China had unprecedented heatwaves in the summer, and Australia and South America had record-breaking warm winters.

According to Ed Hawkins, a professor of climate change at the University of Reading who was not involved in the report, these occurrences will only worsen unless we move away from fossil fuels and achieve net-zero emissions.

He stated that our inaction today will have lasting effects for generations to come.

The recent discoveries by Copernicus were announced one month following the climate agreement made at COP28 in Dubai, which called for a gradual shift away from fossil fuels, the primary contributor to global warming.

According to John Marsham, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Leeds, it is crucial that we quickly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and achieve net-zero emissions in order to protect the habitable climate that is essential for all of us.

In November 2023, there were two days where the temperature exceeded the preindustrial benchmark by more than two degrees Celsius, setting another concerning record.

FILE - The Canelon Grande reservoir just north of Canelones, Uruguay, lies dry March 14, 2023, as the country goes through a severe drought.

On March 14, 2023, due to a severe drought, the Canelon Grande reservoir located north of Canelones, Uruguay, is completely dry.

According to Copernicus, the 12-month span ending in January or February 2024 is expected to surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial level.

According to Burgess, while reliable weather records have been kept since 1850, evidence from tree rings, ice cores, and sediment suggests that the temperatures in 2023 will be the highest in at least the past 100,000 years.

Temperatures reached record highs in every continent. 2023 marked the second-hottest year on record in Europe, following 2020.

In 2023, there was a start of a naturally happening El Nino weather event that causes the waters in the southern Pacific to heat up and leads to hotter weather.

The event is predicted to reach its highest point in 2024 and is connected to eight consecutive months of record-breaking temperatures from June to December.

The ocean temperatures around the world have been consistently higher than usual, with numerous seasonal records being broken since April.

These unprecedented ocean temperatures caused marine heatwaves devastating to aquatic life and increased storm intensity.

The Earth’s oceans are responsible for absorbing over 90% of the additional heat generated by human actions, and they have a significant impact on regulating the planet’s climate.

FILE - People suffering from heat-related ailments crowd the district hospital in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh state, India, on June 20, 2023.

On June 20, 2023, the district hospital in Ballia, India was filled with individuals seeking medical treatment for heat-related illnesses.

Increasing temperatures have also sped up the thawing of ice shelves – frozen barriers that aid in preventing large glaciers in Greenland and West Antarctica from sliding into the ocean and causing a rise in sea levels.

In 2023, the levels of sea ice in Antarctica reached a new record low.

Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus, stated that the recent extremes we have witnessed in the past few months serve as a striking testament to the significant distance our civilization has strayed from its original climate.

In the year 2023, the levels of carbon dioxide and methane hit all-time highs at 419 parts per million and 1,902 parts per billion, respectively.

According to the United Nations Environment Program, after CO2, methane is the second-largest cause of global warming and has been responsible for approximately 30% of the increase in global temperatures since the industrial revolution.